|P U N J A B||
Wednesday, November 11, 1998
staff go on strike
will get Chandigarh'
team to visit Punjab
delays cane crushing
Campaigning picks up in
health policy on anvil
links: Bitta hails probe
flay slow implementation of agreement
marks 'legal services day'
IT, Customs staff go on strike
CHANDIGARH, Nov 10 The working in the Departments of the Income Tax, the Central Excise and Customs was severely hit today following a three-day nationwide strike by the staff in support of their demands.
Employees under the banner of the Coordination Committee of Federations in the Department of Revenue organised a rally and sat in dharna on the premises of the central revenue building in Sector 17 here.
Mr Rajesh Rai, president of the Customs and Central Excise Executive Officers Association, and Mr D.R. Sharma, joint convener of the local unit of the committee, claimed that the strike was total in the region. The customs clearances were badly affected at dry ports at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar and the land customs stations and airport at Amritsar.
The employees are on strike to protest against the Central Government's continued reluctance to remove anomalies in the Fifth Pay Commission's recommendations. The anomalies had not been removed despite assurances by the Finance Minister, a press note alleged today.
AMRITSAR: All officers (Group B) and employees of the Income Tax (Group B, C and D) and Central Excise and Customs Department (Group B and C) executives stationed at Amritsar observed a total strike today on a call from the coordinating committee of federations of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance. The officers (Group B) and employees (Group C and D) of the Revenue Department claim to have been unjustifiably discriminated against by the fifth pay commission which created various anomalies in their scales.
PATIALA: Income Tax employees observed a strike here as well as at Sirhind, Mandi Gobindgarh, Sangrur, Nabha and Barnala on a call given by the coordination committee of its federation.
The Revenue Tax Gazetted Officers Federation and Income Tax Employees Federation Group C and Group D which observed strike are demanding parity of scales with central government employees for those who have been assigned lower pay scales than their central counterparts.
Employee leaders N K Saini and A P Rajput said they were also demanding at least three functional promotions as had been recommended for group A services. They said the strike would continue till November 12.
LUDHIANA: Employees of Income Tax, Central Excise and Customs Departments at Ludhiana observed a strike against disparity in pay scales.
In a joint rally the employees demanded the implementation of the recommendations of the high-powered committee that had recommended revision of the scales of these departments to the Ministry of Finance.
JALANDHAR: Employees of the Income Tax Central Excise and Customs Departments observed a strike here today on the call of the coordination committee.
Mr O D Sharma, general secretary CCEEO's federation, said that an indefinite strike was earlier proposed in July but on the assurance of the Finance Minister to solve their problems within a period of three weeks, the strike was postponed. But since the government has not taken any steps to remove the genuine grievance of the employees, a three-day strike is being observed.
Mr S K Bhargava, general
secretary, ITEF (NWR), Mr B P Aggarwal additional general
secretary, ITGSA (NWR), Mr O P Sharma, joint secretary,
CCEEO's federation, Mr Basant Kumar, joint secretary, IT
Gr.D. Federation, Mr Ram Parkash, branch secretary,
AIFCECEO's addressed the employees here. They demanded a
replacement scale of Rs 2200-4000 for group B officers,
Rs 2000-3500 to all inspectors in CBEC/CBDT and
replacement scale of Rs 1640-2900 to DOS level II and
head clerks in the CBEC and CBDT respectively by
upgrading the DOS level II in CBEC and head clerks in
CBDT to the grade of office superintendent.
Badal: Punjab will get Chandigarh
HOSHIARPUR, Nov 10 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today took exception to Union Home Minister L.K. Advanis statement on the dispute over Chandigarh and reiterated that the union territory should go to Punjab.
Talking to newsmen here, the Chief Minister termed Mr Advanis remarks that Chandigarh would not go to Punjab as "most unfortunate". He said he had already taken up the issue with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and was confident that "it would ultimately come to Punjab".
Referring to the coming assembly elections, Mr Badal informed that SAD had deputed a team of senior party leaders led by Union Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to campaign for the BJP candidates in Delhi. Similarly, another team of leaders along with party workers would go to Rajasthan, he said.
On the demand of the people of the Kandi and Bet areas of the district, the Chief Minister urged Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar to upgrade the railway stations of Garhshankar, Saila Khurd and Jaijon Doaba on the Nawanshahr-Jaijon Doaba section which were downgraded from B-class to just flag stations by the Ferozepore division of Northern Railway two months ago.
Mr Badal informed the Railway Minister over the telephone that these stations were established in 1914 to meet the needs of people of the Kandi and Bet areas and more than 150 panchayats, beopar mandals, bar councils and municipal councils of these areas had passed resolutions for the restoration of B-class status.
He said that with the downgradation of these stations, poor sections of the society were hit and employment generated by these stations reduced.
Mr Nitish Kumar assured the Chief Minister that he would personally examine the case and do the needful in this regard.
The Chief Minister said that he had instructed all the deputy commissioners in state to persuade the vegetable retailers not to charge heavy profit on their vegetable sale. The Deputy Commissioners would ensure the sale of vegetables at genuine rates. There was no shortage of funds in state, he added.
JALANDHAR, (PTI): The Punjab Chief Minister has ruled out imposing a ban on smoking in the state as demanded by a national conclave of medical fraternity here which had also asked multi-national tobacco companies to stop sponsoring sports events.
"In a democratic set-up, governments cannot slap such bans as they could not be enforced properly," Mr Badal told the valedictory function of the 18th National Congress on Respiratory Diseases here yesterday.
The four-day congress,
first of its kind in Northern India, organised by the
Indian Chest Society, passed a resolution asking the
Centre and State Governments to stop multi-national
companies from sponsoring sports events as it "only
CHANDIGARH, Nov 10 Continued pressure by the governments of Punjab and Haryana as also by millers and exporters, has forced the Government of India to reconsider the issue of specifications of rice after having relaxed specifications for paddy. A team of the Central Government will visit rice mills in Punjab, and if needed in Haryana also, from tomorrow onwards and submit its report to the Centre on or by November 16 to facilitate an early decision on the issue.
The team will study the quality of rice and yield from the paddy available in the mandis and purchased by millers. The Centre's decision to give up its reluctance on the reconsideration of the specification is too late as the bulk of the paddy has been procured mainly by government agencies in Punjab and millers/traders/exporters in Haryana. In view of the serious damage to paddy by unseasonal excessive rains, the Government of India agreed to allow relaxation in specifications to 8 per cent, clubbing three specifications for damage to paddy, discolouration and sprouting etc. This was done on October 26.
Since overall 8 per cent damage as relaxation in specifications did not really give any clear-cut directions to the officials, the decision did not help anyone in the absence of a proper breakdown of the figures.
Although the state agencies in Punjab have purchased more than 62 per cent of the paddy arrivals and all above the minimum support prices and millers 38 per cent (with 50 per cent below minimum support prices), the state agencies in Haryana have procured merely 7 per cent of the arrivals.
According to Mr P. Ram, Administrative Secretary, Food and Supplies, Punjab, most of the paddy growers in Fazilka, Ferozepore, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Kapurthala, Amritsar, Jandiala and Tarn Taran were able to sell their paddy at prices above Rs 500 per quintal. Only 10 per cent of the state stocks were purchased at prices below Rs 400 per quintal but these varieties included discoloured, damaged and sprouted paddy.
In Haryana, out of the total arrivals of 13.72 lakh tonnes, including 13,683 tonnes of common variety of paddy, and 11.67 lakh tonnes of grade A paddy, the millers/traders/exporters have purchased 12.74 lakh tonnes (including basmati) and the state agencies only 98,836 tonnes of paddy. In the first nine days of the current month, 2.86 lakh tonnes of leviable paddy has been purchased in Haryana as purchases before this were levy-free.
As the bulk of the paddy has already arrived in the Haryana mandis, the leviable paddy is likely to come to the mandis only for about a week more and the total arrivals may not exceed 22 lakh tonnes as against 25 lakh tonnes last year.
The paddy arrivals in Haryana are also likely to decline because of the Centre's decision to allow levy-free paddy purchases up to October 31 a decision which had not been conveyed to the Haryana Government in writing. The decision, however, affected the arrivals of nearly 3 lakh tonnes of paddy which Haryana mandis had been getting from Uttar Pradesh's paddy growing areas near Haryana towns. Thus millers/exporters have straightaway made purchases from Uttar Pradesh areas falling near Sonepat, Faridabad, Yamunanagar, Karnal and Hodel.
The basmati prices too, as
those of other varieties are likely to go up because of
lower yield and decreased arrivals which are likely to be
around 6 lakh tonnes as against 8 lakh tonnes last year.
Basmati paddy also suffered damage up to 20 per cent and
an equal quantity has declined in yield.
tops in procurement
CHANDIGARH, Nov 10 Sangrur district is on the top as far as procurement of paddy is concerned. So far 14.48 lakh tonnes of paddy has been procured in this district. It is followed by Ferozepore and Ludhiana.
Mr M.M. Mittal, Punjab
Food and Supply Minister, said today that so far 87.21
lakh tonnes of paddy had been procured in the state and
out of it 32 lakh tonnes had been procured by rice
millers. The share of government agencies in the
procurement was around 63.2 percent, he added.
sought in levy rice conditions
AMRITSAR, Nov 10 The local Rice Millers Association yesterday demanded relaxation in conditions for levy rice and custom milling by rice shellers in the state. The president of the association, Mr Harish Chander Devgan, in a press note issued here said the government had failed to provide any change in the specifications and the policy announced, which was contrary to the assurance given by the government.
Mr Devgan added that the
conditions were not viable for levy rice and for custom
milling of paddy procured by different state agencies.
Commenting on the conditions, Mr Devgan pointed out that
some of these were very cumbersome and could not be
followed during the delivery of levy rice.
Campaigning picks up in Adampur
ADAMPUR, Nov 10 Campaigning picked up in Adampur constituency today. The byelection will determine whether the Congress, under its new PPCC chief, can win.
Former minister Rajesh Pilot will address a rally on November 12 at Pinpalke near Zogpur. Other leaders who will address rallies sometime next week are Ms Meira Kumar, general secretary, AICC and former Union Minister and member CWC, Dr Mahan Singh.
Coming after more than two years of Akali rule the byelection is being closely contested by all political parties.
The Akalis have lost some of their shine as an angry peasantry, which has forgotten its provision of free power for tubewells, absorbs the losses to its paddy crop due to a combination of unseasonal rains and the apathy of the state government.
Non-availability of DAP fertiliser which is delaying the sowing of wheat and potatoes and increasing incidents of suicides by farmers due to the debt trap are also likely to be raised by the Congress desperately trying to ensure a win.
of state machinery alleged
JALANDHAR, Nov 10 The Congress has alleged that in blatant misuse of the model code of conduct, various Punjab ministers held election meetings at religious places in various villages yesterday.
While the Congress Party has sent its complaints against the misuse of the state machinery by the SAD-BJP government. Its general secretary, Mr Birdevinder Singh, and a former minister, Mr J.S. Multani, alleged here yesterday that Mr Ajit Singh Kohhar, Minister for Agriculture, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh, Minister for Medical Education, and Ms Jagir Kaur, Minister for Tourism, held election meetings at gurdwaras of Tandi, Badchui, Charrar and Rajpur.
Mr Multani, however, said
persistent lodging of complaints with the Chief Election
Commissioner had been futile as Mr M.S. Gill, Chief
Election Commissioner had so far taken no action against
the erring ministers for indulging in activities which
are contrary to the model code of conduct.
Sharma's links: Bitta hails probe
PATIALA, Nov 10 Former All-India Youth Congress President Maninderjit Singh Bitta has hailed the Union Home Ministry's decision to order a CBI probe into Romesh Sharma's alleged links with politicians and bureaucrats.
Talking to newsmen at the residence of Nabha Nagar Sudhar Sabha chairman Sushi Jain at Nabha last night, Mr Bitta said the probe would also expose the designs of Romesh Sharma, an alleged aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, to field candidates in the assembly elections besides financing others.
Mr Bitta said the government should make public any list of politicians or bureaucrats found to have links with Romesh Sharma.
He also urged the Punjab
Government to provide help to policemen facing cases in
courts due to the terrorist encounters conducted by them.
He said this was necessary to maintain the morale of the
Sugarcane shortage delays crushing
CHANDIGARH, Nov 10 Inadequate supply of sugarcane has forced a majority of the sugar mills to delay the launching of cane crushing operations in Punjab.
Only six sugar mills have started the crushing of sugarcane so far out of the 22 sugar mills in the cooperative and the private sector in the state. These include the cooperative sugar mills at Nawanshahr, Morinda and Budhewal and private mills at Amloh, Mukerian and Butter Sewian. There are only seven mills in the private sector while the remaining 15 are in the cooperative sector.
Normally, crushing of cane starts from November 1 and continues till the end of April. But this year the cane crushing season will not last beyond January as mills are facing a very serious shortage of raw material.
According to informed official sources, the sugarcane output in the state this year will be around 75 lakh tonnes and out of it only 45 lakh tonnes will be available to mills for crushing while the remaining cane will be used for preparing gur, shakar etc.
When contacted, the Cane Commissioner, Mr Mewa Singh Sonar, told TNS that the requirement of the mills in the state was to the tune of 90 lakh tonnes in a full season of six months. And for producing this much raw material about 2.25 lakh hectares were required under sugarcane crop. This year only 1.14 lakh hectares was under the crop.
The per day crushing capacity of the mills was around 46,766 tonnes. He said the Punjab Government was worried about the decrease in the area under sugarcane crop. Efforts were being made to increase the area from next year to meet the raw material requirement of the mills.
When asked what led to the decrease in the area under the crop, Mr Sonar said that farmers faced a lot of problems in 1996-97 in disposing their cane crop as mills did not cooperate with them. He said that some of the farmers had to even dispose the cane as fodder that year. In 1997-98 farmers reduced the area under this crop and the same was done this season.
He said that farmers were preferring the wheat-paddy rotation as they got more earnings from this cropping pattern than sugarcane.
Punjab was expecting an output of 4.28 lakh tonnes of sugar this year. The best year so far was 1995-96 when the sugar output in the state went upto 6.47 lakh tonnes while the following year the output was 6.21 lakh tonnes. In 1997-98 the output came down to 3.38 lakh tonnes.
According to information available, the worst affected mills in the cooperative sector this year will be the cooperative sugar mills at Rakhra, Tarn Taran, Zira and Jagraon. For the Rakhra mill only 5.88 lakh quintals of cane will be available this year for crushing against its capacity of 22.50 lakh quintals. The Tarn Taran mill will get 9.10 lakh quintals against its capacity of 22.50 lakh quintals. Almost the same will be fate of the Ajnala mill which will get 12.23 lakh quintals of sugarcane against its capacity of 45 lakh quintals. The Faridkot mill will get 14.46 lakh quintals against its capacity of 45 lakh tonnes.
Punjab has fixed a price
of Rs 95 per quintal for early maturing varieties of
sugarcane like COJ-64 and 83 and Rs 93 for mid-term
varieties like COJ-82, 84 and Rs 91 for late maturing
varieties like CO-1148. However, mid-term and late
maturing varieties will fetch the same price applicable
in case of early maturing variety after February 1 and
March 1, respectively.
Animal health policy on anvil
CHANDIGARH, Nov 10 An animal health policy is on the anvil in Punjab, where dairy animals, buffaloes and cows, are virtually starved, affecting their milk yield.
While setting up of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, approved by the Council of Ministers in principle, may take time to come up, the proposed policy is expected to be available by mid-December.
The policy has the twin objective of bringing about "genetic improvement" in the milch animals and providing an adequate "health care cover", including immunisation. Given the widespread incidence of foot and mouth disease in cattle and the prevalence of haemorrhage septicaemia, Punjab proposes to carve out "disease-free zones".
The Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, today told TNS that the policy would be framed by a committee (notified on October 9) headed by Dr P.K. Uppal, at present Chairman, Foot and Mouth Disease, Inter-national.
Since both agriculture and livestock together make up for 47 per cent of the state's gross domestic product (contribution of the latter is 17 per cent), it is imperative that more attention is paid to animal productivity. More than the cow it is the buffalo which is the mainstay of dairy farming in Punjab. But its milk yield is low. This is because of inadequate feed and fodder fed to the animals. Against a daily requirement of 35 kg to 40 kg, on an average a buffalo does not get to eat more than 11 kg per day. In fact buffalo also has a potential as a "meat animal". The plight of male buffalo calves in villages is well known.
Efforts are being made to improve the genetic stock of buffalo and cow. Already, Mr Lakhanpal said, a project (Rs 400 crore) on buffalo and cow breeding has been submitted to the Swedish Development Corporation. The consultant has cleared a part of the same worth Rs 40 crore a nod from the Union Ministry concerned is awaited.
Through the existing network of animal husbandry and veterinary institutions it is proposed to provide an adequate health care cover to farmers at their door-step in the form of "feed and fodder management (Punjab has barely 2 per cent area under fodder and the need is to introduce concentrates for animals), consolidation of existing infrastructure and institutions, introducing extension and training programmes and bring about genetic improvement".
There are several constraints at present. These include inadequate trained manpower for undertaking livestock development programmes, inadequate investment in livestock sector, inadequate funds for research and development and inadequate state-of-art animal protection techniques. The veterinary vaccine institute at PAU, Ludhiana, for example, is working with "obsolete technology" using "alum" prescription rather than resorting to "adjuvant oil technique". When people and policy-makers talk of "diversification of agriculture" developing dairying and animal husbandry comes to mind.
This sector, says Mr Lakhanpal, offers employment opportunities not only for graduates but even for housewives in villages. Once the university is established and the second veterinary college is established besides the college of animal products technology and college of inland fisheries, jobs will be available in state institutes and departments, pharmaceutical firms, in research organisations and private sector.
New technology when
introduced will need "trained" manpower for
"embryo transplant" and faster multiplication
of genetically superior dairy animals. Their services
will be needed for use of diagnostic kits for accurate
treatment of diseases with greater sensitivity and
genetically engineered vaccine for prevention of
diseases, which cause economic loss to farmers due to
high mortality and morbidity.
Teachers flay slow implementation
JALANDHAR, Nov 10 Dr V.K. Tewari, National Secretary, All-India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFUCTO) stated here today that the modified notification on revision of pay scales issued by the HRD Ministry on November 6 had not implemented all the clauses of an earlier agreement reached on September 5.
It regretted that the benefit of length of service along with service in the feeder grade had not been granted so far. Parts of the agreement were to be implemented through the issuing of proper regulations, but the UGC and the HRD Ministry had failed to finalise them even two months after the end of nation-wide strike. Thus regulations on eligibility, qualifications, provision of third promotion, financial assistance for research and professional development, creation of posts of professors in colleges and higher grades for tutors were yet to be issued. Similarly instructors and coaches were still to get justice, he said.
The AIFUCTO demanded that all states implement the revised scales and release the arrears in one instalment.
Not fully satisfied with
the progress of implementation its 21st conference at
Calcutta from November 1 to 3, gave a call to launch a
countrywide movement, with a dharna in front of the HRD
Ministry on December 14, he said.
Seminar marks 'legal services day'
KAPURTHALA, Nov 10 Sixty two cases were decided in special lok adalats organised at Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi and Phagwara yesterday in connection with celebrations of 'Legal Services day' in the state according to Mr V.B. Handa, District and Sessions Judge.
A seminar to educate the public regarding the free legal aid schemes launched by the Punjab State Legal Services Authority was organised in the district courts. Members of the District Bar Association, Judicial Officers, officers of the district administration, panches, sarpanches and prominent citizens and litigants participated in the seminar.
Mr Handa said lok adalats, through mutual settlement and compromises, not only help the litigants to get speedy and cheap justice but also help in lessening burden over judiciary. He asked the senior lawyers to take one case of a poor person once in a month free of cost.
Mrs Usha R.Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, said that lok adalats should be made mobile so that justice should be given to the litigants at their door steps.
FEROZEPORE: In connection with the legal services day, a function was held at the Sessions Court here on yesterday.
LUDHIANA, Nov 10 (PTI) Noted Punjabi novelist Hari Singh Dilbar died at Lalton, his native place in Ludhiana district early today, family sources said.
He was 89.
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